White Perennials – The Brightest Color in the Garden

white hibiscus


Cerastium snow in summer
White perennials perfection: The silvery-foliaged, white flowering groundcover, Cerastium, Snow-in-Summer is the first plant to draw a viewer’s eye to this garden. It appears so brightly luminescent that it can’t be ignored.

Harness the Power of Light–Add White Perennials

Just like Cerastium with its adorable white flowers, white brightens and makes any perennial garden pop but gardeners seem aware of the power of white!

Perhaps gardeners feel that white is a non-color but White is Light! Put together every color of the light spectrum and the result is a bright shining white light! Combine all the other flower colors into one and a muddy gray is the result. White contrasts or accents any other flower color. Darker colors often lose themselves into the sea of foliage, like dark red roses that really don’t show up unless mixed with light colored or white roses. Only then do the darker colored roses stand out.

The nine-to-five workforce often gets the most enjoyment from their gardens in the evenings or dusk. Summertime temperatures have the tendency to push gardeners out of the heat of gardens during daylight hours, so this is a prime time for white flowers to bring maximum enjoyment. Not only do night-blooming perennials release their enhanced fragrances more at night, but the white colors glow in diminishing light. Equate white perennial flowers to flying in an airliner over the United States at night. No matter how high the plane is, lights on the ground can still be seen. The rest of the terrain appears dark and flat: trees, fields, gardens, and parks no matter how colorful they are during the day, now look like mud. But the lights stand out! This is probably the logic behind the fact that most shade flowering perennials bloom with white flowers.

Use white sparingly. Small drifts of white perennials spotted here and there in the garden, season by season, do entirely the opposite of boring or sterile by adding excitement. They will separate and brighten the other colors. The value of white can be shown by the following examples of gorgeous white flowers in every major group of classic popular perennials. Starting with the early spring-blooming perennials and moving through the rest of the seasons, there are many pristine examples of flowers that can be used to make your garden more luminescent. I’ve offered only a few examples of white perennials below, in hopes of opening your gardener’s mind to white’s creative possibilities. White as a symbol of new beginnings or a blank canvas is the perfect color to start with in the early spring garden and the perfect color to finish up the glory of fall.

white perennials
Anemone sylvestris

Anemone ‘Snow Drop’ is a spring charmer with pure-white, chaste flowers that nod gracefully on erect wiry stems. ‘Snow Drop’ is a woodland perennial that enjoys a dappled shady garden.

white daffodils
White daffodils

White Daffodils are so refreshing with the purity of their petals and cleanliness of the white perennial flowers that trumpet a new spring beginning.

iberis - candytuft
Iberis or candytuft

Iberis sempervirens, or candytuft named ‘Snowflake’ has white flowers as pure as its name. The clean, consistent, evergreen foliage of candytuft forms large cushions of fine-leaved, circular whorls that will be smothered in reflective pristine white.

campanula - bellflower
Campanula or Bellflowers

Campanula or Bellflowers grow tall and are called Campanula persifolia or Peach-leaf Bellflowers. The short campanula are called ‘Clips.’

papaver - peony
Papaver or peony, picture courtesy of Walters Gardens

Paeonia, ‘Ducchess-de-Nemours’ is a traditional flower in the traditional color of pure white. The prolific blooms of this classic garden perennial are fragrant and held aloft on strong stems that stay attractive all season.

white perennial delphinium
White Delphinium, picture courtesy of Walters Gardens

Delphinium, ‘Double Innocence’ is impeccable in its perfection. ‘Double Innocence’ is a more compact hybrid Delphinium with medium-sized three-foot spires that hold the flawless looking white blooms straight and proud so they can really be admired.

white hibiscus
White Hibiscus, picture courtesy of Walters Gardens

White Hibiscus shines like a spotlight in a garden.

white lilies
White Lilium

White Lilies have always symbolized purity but ‘Asiatic’ Lilium, ‘Casa Blanca’ does it better than any other. The flowers are hugely magnificent with white-waxy curved petals that are centered with burgundy curled stamens.

white physostegia
White Physostegia or Obedience Plant

Physostegia or Obedience Plant blooms on spikes of white uncluttered straight stems of flowers. ‘Summer Snow’ is a twenty-inch-tall selection. Their white blooms resemble Snapdragons.

white aster
White Aster

White asters (both tall-uprights and short-mounds) help balance the over-exuberance of colors in fall gardens. White Asters have small, star-shaped, daisy-like flowers with yellow button centers.

Bypassing touches of white in a garden as a non-color usually means that the power of white has not been recognized. Every garden becomes lighter and brighter with the addition of white.

Use White Perennials To Create a “Moon Garden” That Almost Glows in the Dark

If you are a true romantic, you might consider a crescent-shaped “Moon Garden” full of blooming white perennials. Popular in the Victorian Era, these gardens are a terrific way to create a romantic sitting area where you can enjoy the way the flowers reflect the moonlight as the day comes to a close.

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